Best Things To Do in Cozumel
Most travelers head to Cozumel for diving along the shallow reefs and relaxing on the beach; experienced divers tend to migrate toward the northern beaches, while families looking for quiet sands and calm shores seek beaches toward the south. Land-loving travelers can explore what the Mayans left behind at the San Gervasio Ruins, or take a hiking trip through the Punta Sur Ecological Park.
Updated September 18, 2018
- #1View all Photos#1 in CozumelSightseeing, Swimming/Pools, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Swimming/Pools, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
No trip to Cozumel is complete without a boat ride (or two) around the island's magnificently blue waters. Whether you hop on board to scuba dive through some of Cozumel's magnificent reefs or to simply take in the scenery during a sunset sail, most travelers agree that chartering a boat is worth the time and money.
One of top traveler-approved tour operators is ScubaTony Cozumel, which specializes in taking small groups on scuba diving trips in the reefs around Cozumel. These start at $90 per person for a four-to five-hour round-trip boat trip. The fee includes fresh fruit and drinks, along with marine park taxes and fees. Rental gear costs extra. Recent visitors described their experiences with ScubaTony with words like "perfect," "flawless" and "sublime."
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If you're a wildlife lover, a trip to the Faro Celerain Eco Park is a must. Also known as Punta Sur Eco Beach Park, this ecological park sprawls across the southern tip of Cozumel. Its 2,500 acres are home to exotic birds, crocodiles and sea turtles. But don't let the animals distract you from everything else the park has to offer. Take some time to explore the eco park's two lighthouses, one of which hails from the pre-Hispanic era. There's also a museum that details the history of the Maya, as well as pirates and corsairs that once frequented the area. You can also book a catamaran tour of the Colombia lagoon.
Recent visitors said that the beach park offers a great mix of history and nature situated in a beautiful spot. The white sands and peaceful atmosphere of the beach are just about perfect, according to most visitors.
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Palancar Beach, one of the best all-around beach spots on Cozumel, is especially acclaimed for its water sports, including kayaking, snorkeling, sailing and diving. You can rent a dive charter and also grab some grub at the nearby restaurants and bars. Travelers especially recommend Palancar Beach and Palancar Reef for cruise patrons looking to escape a pre-planned excursion for a more authentic experience.
Travelers also described the just-offshore Palancar Gardens as an excellent spot for divers of all skill levels. Even if you're an experienced diver, it's recommended you rent a charter to avoid the hassle of permits or licensing. All diving companies must have a license to operate, and while swimmers are allowed to dive on their own, we recommend that you hire local experts who are familiar with the diving terrain. Others say it's a must-do even if you're planning just to skim the surface snorkeling the Palancar Shallows.
- #4View all Photos#4 in CozumelBeaches, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Paradise Beach is a popular beach on the western side of the island. Families, couples, locals and tourists – plus plenty of cruise ship passengers – flock to this beach, so prepare for crowds. This pristine shoreline boasts soft sand, turquoise waters, a pool, a restaurant and shopping (you can pick up a bathing suit, sandals and other beach necessities at three stores along the shore). For $3, you're granted access to all the facilities, as well as a chair by the beach or the pool, and for about $18, you can purchase a Fun Pass to use all of the inflatable water toys, water trampolines, a coconut tree climb, kayaks, snorkeling gear and stand-up paddleboards. Poolside and beachside food and beverage service is also offered with a $10 minimum.
Recent visitors said that Paradise Beach was a very enjoyable way to spend the day, especially because it was void of people hawking their goods and services. Others remarked that the staff is friendly and helpful, while others were pleased with the clean facilities.
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Don't have the time to see all of Mexico's sites? Just go to Discover Mexico Park. Sitting along the coast just south of San Miguel, this park houses miniature models of some of the country's most popular attractions, including the Mayan ruins of Tulum and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City. The park also provides insight into Mexican culture, including a chocolate factory and the popular tequila tasting exhibit.
Recent visitors said it's a great place if you're short on time, but still want to see and learn a lot about Mexico. Other travelers attributed their great experience to the park's friendly and knowledgeable tour guides, while others said the tequila tasting is not to be missed.
- #6View all Photos#6 in CozumelSwimming/Pools, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSwimming/Pools, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
A visit to Stingray Beach will provide the same interactive experience as scuba diving, just without the heavy gear (or price tags). Located in San Miguel, this facility allows you to get up close and personal with these undersea creatures, providing ample opportunities to swim among them. And don't worry about getting stung: The rays' barbs are clipped, so the animals can't hurt you.
Recent visitors couldn't get enough of the experience, describing the rays as beautiful and mellow, and the staff as respectful of the animals and reassuring to the humans. Others caution that you should head here first thing in the morning as this popular place can get very crowded.
- #7View all Photos#7 in CozumelBeaches, Recreation, SportsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Recreation, SportsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Chankanaab is a Mayan term that means "small sea," and the outdoor park is named for its coastal cenote, which features diving and snorkeling tours, dolphin encounters, and a relaxing beach. There's also opportunities for zip lining and touring a tequila factory, along with gardens, nature trails and picturesque grounds for both exploring and relaxing. There's even a spa located on the premises.
Recent visitors raved about the park's diving opportunities and agree that it is the perfect place to bring families and groups, as there will be something for everyone to enjoy. Some reviewers noted it was a touristy experience with an inflated price tag, but most agreed it was a fun experience.
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Mayan women used to visit this shrine in central Cozumel to pay tribute to their goddess of love and fertility, Ixchel. Today, you can pay a tribute of your own by taking a brief tour of this ruin; it costs $9.50 to access the park. Most grumble about the cost of admission, but previous guests do recommend you take some time to visit San Gervasio if you have never seen Mayan ruins up close. Companies like Cozumel Tours will take you around and through the ruins, but you could save time and a little expense by taking a taxi to the area and walking through on your own.
Although you can explore the ruins on your own, some recent travelers recommend paying a bit more for a guided tour once you're there, as you'll learn a lot more. Also, make sure to wear sneakers, as the ground is quite sandy and there are a variety of small lizards and larger iguanas on the grounds. Bringing plenty of water and some bug repellant is also recommended. You can visit San Gervasio Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Restrooms, free parking, souvenir stores, guides and a snack bar are available on site. To learn more about the facilities available at the ruins, visit the Cozumel Parks website.
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